Just Read… Run and Hide, by Alan McDermott



Eva Driscoll is used to chasing down bad guys, but now the bad guys are chasing her. She knows they won’t stop until she’s dead.

After her brother is killed in a faked suicide, Driscoll teams up with ex-soldier Rees Colback, the one person who can help her find answers. Together they’re determined to uncover why members of his Special Forces squad are dying in mysterious circumstances.

But with every agency in the country in hot pursuit, their only choice is to flee.

The clock is ticking. They can’t run forever. It’s time to make a choice: kill or be killed…

* * *

When you’ve already got a successful series, it’s always a risk to start something new. Alan McDermott released Trojan last year, a spin-off from his great Tom Gray series, with MI5 agent, Andrew Harvey in the driving seat. This time around, Run and Hide introduces us to Eva Driscoll, a brand new American protagonist, who is not short of skills when it comes to dealing with bad guys. Or even good guys, being bad.

Run and Hide isn’t a spin-off, but it is set in the same world as Tom Gray, and hence some familiar faces make an appearance, drawing the characters’ worlds together. In this story, there are powerful forces at work, and it is soon clear that Eva Driscoll is facing more than just a rogue team.

I mentioned the risk of starting a new series. The best way of dealing with risk is to mitigate it, and Alan has used all the right ingredients to pull it off: great writer; a fantastic kick-ass protagonist in Eva Driscoll;  a decent plot: and all of this wrapped up in a fast-paced novel. Great stuff!

Run and Hide is published today by Thomas & Mercer. Go buy it!


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Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – Harrogate!


This was my first Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (known simply as ‘Harrogate’). And this small fact seemed to come as a surprise to nearly everyone who I mentioned it to, probably because I’m a familiar face at so many bookish things. And my thoughts? Well, it was just one of the best book-related things I have ever done, so here’s a write-up of some of my highlights. And there were so many, I can’t include them all.

But I’ll start by thanking my partner-in-crime, Keith B Walters, who was great company.

Me and Keith – photo from Ali Karim


The whole thing started when I stopped outside to take the obligatory arrival photo when I heard my name. I looked up to be greeted by the fab Mel Sherratt and Caroline Mitchell – and I hadn’t even stepped foot on to the grounds of the Swan Hotel.


I had a tough choice of events straight away (and unlike CrimeFest, you don’t normally have to do too much choosing), but opted for Noir at the Bar, which was run by Vic Watson, with brilliant readings from plenty of authors, including friends Roz Watkins, Susi Holliday, Dave Sivers, Louise Mangos and (new friend), Nic Parker. And through it all, Claire Macleary sat quietly on stage, looking all sweetness and light. And her reading to close the show was (brilliantly) anything but, and the perfect ending for the event!

Vic and Roz

Vic and Roz







Next up for me was Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, playing their crime-related set. And they were absolutely fantastic!

Fun Lovin' Crime Writers

Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers


Friday started with Harrogate Special Guest, Denise Mina, who was interviewed by the fantastic Stav Sheraz, who later scooped the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for The Intrusions (congratulations, Stav!).

Stav & Denise

Stav & Denise

This was followed by the panel, I Used to do This for a Living, with Alafair Burke, Fiona Cummins, Chris Morgan Jones, Joseph Finder and chaired by Charles Cumming.

I Used to do This for a Living Panel

I Used to do This for a Living Panel

Next up for me was the That’s Where My Heart Is panel, with AA Dhand, Leye Adenie, Luca Veste, Susie Steiner and chaired by Peter Robinson.

I took a break then, returning for the Special Guests, Linwood Barclay and Laura Lippman

It was then upstairs to room 166 (renamed The Incident Room) for Thirteen: Live! with Steve Cavanagh, and three ‘juries’.

The it was on to the big event – Special Guest, John Grisham, discussing careers with Lee Child.

John Grisham

John Grisham signing a copy of The Rooster Bar for me!

Richard Osman’s Room 101 of Crime finished the evening’s entertainment, where Martyn Waites, Laura Lippman and Mark Billingham shared the crime fiction issues that they wanted to put into Room 101. It was very funny!

Richard Osman

Richard Osman!


First up for me was Two Crime Writers and a Microphone, playing their Pointless rip-off with Richard Osman and various guests. It was brilliant, and you can watch this again on Orion’s Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/OrionCrime/videos/2181888975185999/

Two Crime Writers

The New Blood panel was up next for me, with Dervla McTiernan, CJ Tudor, Stuart Turton, Will Dean, chaired by Val McDermid.

The What Happened Next? panel caught up with previous New Blood panellists, Liam McIlvanney, Kate Rhodes, Eva Dolan and Abir Mukherjee, which was chaired by Lee Child.

Another break for me before watching Special Guests, Sue Black & Val McDermid talking about Sue’s amazing work.

Special Guest, Don Winslow was interviewed by NJ Cooper, and the evening was rounded off by the Late Night Quiz, in which our table seems to have come sixth. SIXTH! Although one of the highlights of the evening was watching Steve Cavanagh successfully negotiate all of the tables with a full tray of beer. Skillz, man!

Steve Cavanagh.jpg

Steve Cavanagh – photo via Gerard Brennan


The weekend finished off with a panel: Frozen Lands, with Yrsa Siguroardttir, Samuel Bjork, and Ann Cleves, which was chaired by Steph McGovern from BBC Breakfast.


Frozen Lands Panel

Last session of the weekend was Special Guest, Sophie Hannah who was interviewed by Steve Mosby.


Steve Mosby & Sophie Hannah

And that was my weekend. Will I go again? Without a doubt! I got to catch up with many friends, and make a few new ones along the way. I had a fantastic weekend.

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Just Read… Come and Find Me, by Sarah Hilary


On the surface, Lara Chorley and Ruth Hull have nothing in common, other than their infatuation with Michael Vokey. Each is writing to a sadistic inmate, sharing her secrets, whispering her worst fears, craving his attention.

DI Marnie Rome understands obsession. She’s finding it hard to give up her own addiction to a dangerous man: her foster brother, Stephen Keele. She wasn’t able to save her parents from Stephen. She lives with that guilt every day.

As the hunt for Vokey gathers pace, Marnie fears one of the women may have found him – and is about to pay the ultimate price.

* * *

Sarah Hilary delivers another belter with this, the 5th in the DI Marnie Rome series. I listened to this on Audible last month, and here’s what I tweeted at the time.

Tweet S Hilary

Come and Find Me follows Marnie and Noah in their hunt for sadistic prisoner, Michael Vokey, who’s on the run following a jail-break during a brutally violent prison riot. Vokey is a manipulator and with the police wading through the bloody aftermath of the riot, they are clear that he needs to be apprehended before more people get hurt. But with two infatuated women on the outside, and two other potential targets, Marnie’s team are stretched. And this is personal for Marnie – her foster brother, Stephen, is one of those prisoners hospitalised.

As ever, Sarah Hilary has created a tightly-plotted novel with plenty going on, and with the clever use of different viewpoints, we are kept guessing right up until the end. Because this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill police procedural; great characters, plenty of misdirection, and the ever impending sense of danger make this a real page-turner – figuratively speaking, if you’re listening on audio like I did.

And as I mentioned in my Tweet, poor Noah!

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Just Read… Strangers on a Bridge, by Louise Mangos


When Alice Reed goes on her regular morning jog in the peaceful Swiss Alps, she doesn’t expect to save a man from suicide. But she does. And it is her first mistake.

Adamant they have an instant connection, Manfred’s charming exterior grows darker and his obsession with Alice grows stronger.

In a country far from home, where the police don’t believe her, the locals don’t trust her and even her husband questions the truth about Manfred, Alice has nowhere to turn.

To what lengths will Alice go to protect herself and her family?


This is a great debut by Swiss-based author, Louise Mangos, who has clearly used her own experiences of living in Switzerland to create a story with a very authentic feel to it. The mountains and lakes imagery created provides a great backdrop for this tale of dark obsession.

The blurb on the cover, “She should never have saved him”, gives you a good idea of where this story goes. Right from the start, it is clear that saving Manfred is going to cause Alice a good deal of trouble, but actually, I found that the story didn’t quite take me where I expected. Which was good!

When the authorities take no notice of Alice’s complaints about Manfred’s increasingly worrying behaviour, she becomes more and more frustrated and takes matters into her own hands – which only makes things worse. Alice doesn’t always make the right decisions, but her decisions do stay true to her character. With her husband working away for long periods of time, Alice feels isolated and the Swiss locals aren’t going out of their way to make her feel part of the community.

Good pace, good tension and plenty of atmosphere make this an accomplished debut.


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Just Read… Turn a Blind Eye, by Vicky Newham


A dead girl.
A wall of silence.
DI Maya Rahman is running out of time.

A headmistress is found strangled in her East London school, her death the result of a brutal and ritualistic act of violence. Found at the scene is a single piece of card, written upon which is an ancient Buddhist precept:

I shall abstain from taking the ungiven.

At first, DI Maya Rahman can’t help but hope this is a tragic but isolated murder. Then, the second body is found.

Faced with a community steeped in secrets and prejudice, Maya must untangle the cryptic messages left at the crime scenes to solve the deadly riddle behind the murders – before the killer takes another victim.

Turn a Blind Eye is the first book in a brand-new series set in East London and starring DI Maya Rahman.


Vicky’s Newham’s debut police-procedural novel is a cracker! DI Maya Rahman is Bangladeshi but has been living in London for most of her life, and this novel explores the strands of racial diversity that make up London’s Tower Hamlets. The school mentioned in the blurb above is Maya Rahman’s old school; she knows it well, and she knows the problems its pupils face. But Rahman’s own life is complicated too. The story starts following the death of her own brother, and this is the first glimpse we get into the issues of culture and identity that Rahman herself is trying to feel more comfortable with.

The book delves deeply into racial and cultural diversity and it’s clear that it draws on the author’s experience of having been an East End teacher herself. Even Rahman’s sidekick, Aussie Dan Maguire, has an aboriginal wife and family back home in Australia.

There’s a large cast of characters here, and we are given a number of different viewpoints. This could easily have been confusing, but skilful writing and structuring stopped that from happening – not an easy task.

I’m not from London, but from an outsider’s perspective, the atmosphere felt very real indeed, and the plot kept me guessing until the end. A great start to what is undoubtedly going to be a successful series.

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Just Read… When the Waters Recede, by Graham Smith


When The Waters Recede

I’m delighted to be part of the Blog Blitz to support the launch of Graham Smith’s latest Harry Evans novel, When the Waters Recede. Make sure you read to the end for news of an exciting giveaway!

When Waters Recede Cover

When a car is pulled from raging floodwaters with a dead man in the front and the decapitated body of an evil woman in the boot, Cumbria’s Major Crimes Team are handed the investigation.

The woman is soon recognised, but the man cannot be identified and this leads the team and their former leader, Harry Evans, into areas none of them want to visit. Before they know it, they’re dealing with protection scams and looking for answers to questions they didn’t know needed to be asked.

A lot has happened to Harry Evans since my review of I Know Your Secret. He’s trying to get over the loss of his beloved Janet, and although now retired from the force, he has managed to ‘persuade’ the powers that be to let him back in a consultancy role. As the blurb says above, we’re straight into the story, with not one, but two bodies. The woman in the boot is seemingly hated by everyone, and the identity of the driver is a complete mystery.

Whilst Harry isn’t leading this investigation, it’s him his old team are looking to. And whilst he always seems closest to seeing the bigger picture here, he’s finding himself more and more distracted by both Lauren Phillips (not to mention anyone showing any cleavage) and the problems she’s dealing with.

Smith skillfully keeps us entertained, introducing new snippets of information at just the right pace to keep us readers on our toes.

When the Waters Recede is another accomplished offering by a great writer.

* * *

I recently spent some time with Graham as part of his brilliant Crime Publishment course, but if you’ve not come across him before, here’s his bio (and don’t be alarmed, he’s much more smiley in real life!):

Graham Smith Author Pic

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been the manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has three books and three novellas featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009.

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, eight attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Graham can be found at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972
Website: www.grahamsmithauthor.com

!*! Giveaway !*!

When Waters Recede - 6 Book Giveaway

To celebrate the release of When the Waters Recede, Graham Smith is offering one lucky reader the chance to win all six books in the Harry Evans series.

To enter, simply sign up for his newsletter via the link provided before the 5th of June 2018 and you’ll be entered into not just this competition, but all competitions that he runs. Entrants from across the world are welcome.

When The Waters Recede Full Banner

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Just Read… Deep Blue Trouble, by Steph Broadribb

I was invited to the Steph’s launch of Deep Blue Trouble this evening at Waterstones, Covent Garden – a joint launch, in fact, with Johana Gustawsson and her novel, Keeper – by the fab Karen Sullivan of Orenda. Unfortunately scheduling (and geography) meant I couldn’t attend. That doesn’t stop me shouting about it though:


Here’s the blurb:

Single-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT – Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything – alive and kicking. Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free. Following Fletcher from Florida to California, Lori teams up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up, Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything.

As with most of the books I get through lately, I listened via Audible to Deep Blue Trouble, the sequel to fast-paced Deep Down Dead. It is read (with a very fitting southern drawl) by Jennifer Woodward. If you follow the link to my Deep Down Dead review, you’ll see that I loved that, and made favourable comparisons to one of my favourite authors, Meg Gardiner. Steph’s first in the series is a tough one to follow, so how did she do?

Fabulously, that’s how. Deep Blue Trouble is another high-octane ride-along with mom turned bounty hunter, Lori Anderson. The blurb above gives you a decent outline of the story, but what it can’t convey is the tension Steph manages to get into the story. With the mob looking for both Lori and Dakota, and JT in danger himself, there’s a lot at stake here. And it isn’t always clear exactly who the good guys the bad guys are.

Lori wants to do the right thing by everyone, but doesn’t always make the wisest choices in trying to do that. And she’s not beyond making a few extra enemies when she doesn’t need to. But you can’t be a kick-ass heroine without kicking some ass. Even if it means you’re gonna get some bumps and bruises on the way.

If you like riding the roller-coaster, this is another fast ride!







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